The Changing Role of the Bank CIO

The role of the bank CIO has changed dramatically since the financial crisis, as technology leaders have had to take on new responsibilities within their banks in response to a rapidly changing business environment.
October 02, 2012

Proving Technology's Worth

Ed O'Brien (pictured to the right), Director of Banking Channels for the Advisory Service, Mercator (Maynard, Mass.)

The financial services industry continues to be challenged by a number of factors today. These include regulatory and compliance changes, revenue replacement, and constant cost pressure; the pressure of more nimble competitors that offer products and services outside of the industry's regulatory burden; and customers who have increasing expectations for the financial institutions with which they choose to do business, including bundled products, 24/7 cross-channel capability, consistent interactions, greater customization, and preference recognition.

With its increasing number of access channels and changing technologies and customer expectations, this new environment presents particular challenges for IT in general and for the CIO in particular. For financial institutions to be successful today, CIOs must understand the changing dynamics brought about by these technologies and adjust accordingly. This takes true IT and business alignment, which starts with CIOs having relevant skill sets to understand and address the changing business issues in the marketplace. In fact, given estimates that CIOs spend only about 10 percent of their time on technology matters (with a large proportion of time filled with budget issues and internal meetings), increasingly it is likely that more CIOs will lead IT with a business background, which could include experience in marketing, product management and/or customer service.

Regardless of background, however, CIOs must be greater strategic partners for the businesses they support, especially in meeting customer expectations. While many CEOs and CFOs understand the value of IT and the role of the CIO, too often IT operations are misaligned as another cost center supporting the business and not changing or challenging it. Therefore, CIOs must continue to work hard internally to convince and capture the attention of other business executives and relay the fact that IT is not only necessary but also an activity that can positively impact the organization and its customers.

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